Dual-booting all versions of Windows and Linux

   Dual-Boot    |    Win 8    |    Win 7    |    Vista    |    Win XP/2K/NT    |    Win9x/Me    |    How to    |    Legacy 9x Tweaks    |    SiteMap   


Here: Home > Dual-Boot > Dual-Boot Windows 9x/Me with other Operating Systems >

Dual-Boot or Multi-Boot:

Install Windows XP or 2K on a Windows 95, 95a system

Last reviewed: March 2004

How to dual-boot Windows XP or 2000 when Windows 95(a) is already installed on your PC. A dual-boot will be created. No third-party boot utility used.

If you wish to install XP/2K on Windows Me, SE, 98, 95b/c, go to Install Win XP/2K on a Win Me/98/95b system.

This is reliable and safe, easy and painless. No loss of data occurs. It's even suggested by Microsoft!

Summary: Boot up Win95.
Install Win XP/2000 as a NEW installation on its own partition.
The Win XP/2000 partition can use FAT or NTFS. It can not use FAT32. And DO NOT convert the C: drive to NTFS or FAT32.

The Boot Loader menu will then allow you to boot to either WinXP/2000 or the Win9x/Me.

Please read Dual-Boot Win9x+XP/2K/NT for an overview.


Installing a Windows XP or 2000 on a Windows 95 system is quite easy.

Already installed: Win95 or 95a (OSR1).
You want to add: Win XP or 2000.

You just install the Win XP/2000 (to its own drive/partition). It's usually that easy!
Then, during boot up, a menu pops up and you can select which Windows to boot, or allow the default to boot. But read on . . .

Windows XP/2000 are designed to operate with other operating systems. The Win XP/2000 installation will SAVE the current Win95 boot sector in the file c:\BOOTSECT.DOS. and will then create its own boot sector on C:. If the Win95 is selected from the Boot Loader Menu then Bootsect.dos is used - this runs IO.SYS & MSDOS.SYS which load the Win95.

Your current C: will be a FAT16 ('FAT') partition. During the XP/2K installation you'll have to choose a FAT file system, or NTFS, for its installation drive. Windows XP/2K can boot from a FAT drive (C:) and then operate under NTFS from its own NTFS partition.

If you choose FAT for Win XP/2000, you will have access to all files on all drives (but you will lose some of the benefits of the NTFS system, mainly security related).

If you choose NTFS for Win XP/2000, then, while in Win95, you will lose access to the files stored in the NTFS partitions, but you will retain all the benefits of the NTFS. Do NOT convert the PC system partition (C:) to NTFS or FAT32.

[top of page]


One possible difficulty is that you should have two logical drives (or hard disks).

Ignore Microsoft's suggestion (Q217210) to install XP/2K/NT on the same partition as Win95.

WinXP/2000 and a Win95 should not be installed on the same logical drive. Installing different OSs on a single partition may cause problems running those OSs. A single Hard Drive is perfectly fine, but it should be partitioned to at least C: and D:. At a minimum the items in Program Files, including those Common/Shared components, will cause conflicts. IE and Outlook Express are likely to break, and other applications are also at risk.

The PC system partition is almost always the C: drive, so lets presume it is. C: must always use a FAT file system for Win95. This situation can not be altered except by third-party utilities.

A Win95 partition must be Formatted prior to a Win95 installation. However XP/2K should be allowed to Format its own pre-existing partition during the XP/2K installation.

If you have a single Hard Disk with a single partition (a C: drive, but no D: except for a CD or DVD drive), it's recommended that you Fdisk & Format (with loss of data!). You can use BootIT ($), or Partition Manager (165KB, freeware) to repartition without loss of data.

If you must repartition (and reinstall the Windows) then do it! You can use this opportunity to take a long-term view of your partitioning needs. You can probably create an image of Win9x first and avoid any loss of data.

Click HERE to learn how to install another hard disk without changing current drive letters.

[top of page]


It's worthwhile emphasizing the importance of FAT with a Win95.

Windows 95 can not boot from an NTFS or FAT32 partition.

There are four important ingredients to a Win95 installation:
1. PC system partition type (C: must always use FAT)
2. Win95 boot files (always on C:)
3. Win95 boot partition (usually C: but can be elsewhere using FAT).
4. Win95 boot partition must begin before 2 GB from physical start of disk

Therefore, in this dual-boot:

• If Win95 is installed on C:, then you just need a second partition, or a second disk.
• If Win95 is not on C:, then you can install XP/2K on C: and use FAT.

• If you have only one partition then you must:
     start fresh using the #2 Reinstall method (data is lost when you repartition),
     or add a second hard disk (no loss of data),
     or use third-party partition utility to create more partitions (no loss of data).

Adding a disk will alter drive letter allocations if current disk has more than one partition!

[top of page]

EXAMPLES: Install Win XP/2K on Win 95(a)

Examples of Partitions & File System types that can be used in this Dual-Boot.
A second hard disk (Disk 1) is helpful, but it is partitions and file system types that count most.

Example 1: 
Disk 0 C: Win95 FAT Primary (PC system partition;  2 GB max.) 
Disk 0 D: XP/2K FAT Logical (both Windows can read both drives) 
Example 2: 
Disk 0 C: Win95 FAT Primary (PC system partition;  2 GB max.) 
Disk 0 D: XP/2K NTFS Logical (XP/2K can read both. Win95 can't read D:) 
Example 3: 
Disk 0 C: XP/2K FAT Primary (PC system partition;  1.7 GB max.) 
Disk 1 D: Win95 FAT Primary (both Windows can read all drives) 
Disk 1 E: No WinFAT Logical (data shared by both Wins) 
Example 4:  
Disk 0 C: No WinFAT Primary (PC system partition;  2 GB max.) 
Disk 0 E: XP/2K NTFS Logical (XP/2K can read all drives) 
Disk 1 D: Win95 FAT Primary (Win95 can read only C: & D:) 
Disk 1 F: No WinNTFS Logical (XP/2K data) 
When C: is not the OS Boot Partition:
The OS boot partition must begin before a certain distance from the start of the hard disk to be bootable. The OS boot partition for DOS, FAT, NT must begin before 2 GB from the start of the hard disk. The boot partition for other Windows must begin before 8 GB from start of disk. If your PC supports INT13 Extensions, then 98+, XP, 2000 can boot from beyond 7.8 GB.

[top of page]


Remember, you will need to repartition or add a hard disk:
  • if you have only one partition (only a C: drive).
Remember, you will need to format your C: drive:
  • if that PC system partition is not formatted correctly (C: must use FAT).

Note: PartitionMagic 5.0 was freeware with PC Magazine in June 2002. Get a copy!

"Do you wish to enable large disk support (Y/N)?"
When Fdisk asks you this, it wants to know if you wish to use the FAT32 file system.
You CAN NOT use FAT32 when using Win95(a).

[top of page]


Adding a [Win XP or 2000 or NT] to a Win95 system:

1. Hardware drivers compatible with next Windows (mainboard, hard disk, video, ..)
    For those in Windows, check list shown in \Drivers\ on its CD.
2. Win95 or Win95a (OSR1) already installed.
3. At least two partitions (one can be Logical - for XP, 2K, NT).
4. C: drive must use FAT ('FAT' means FAT16).
    Right-click C: drive in My Computer, and click Properties. Look at File system:.
5. Installation CD for the Win95 - it may be needed, sometime.
6. Installation CD for WinXP or Win2000 - obviously!
7. Backup of current Win95 boot files.
8. Win9x Boot disk (that contains SYS.COM and gives CD access) - essential.
9. Floppies - for Win XP/2000 Setup boot disks & Repair disks set - essential.
10. Make sure your system is suitable for running the new OS.
11. Read and save the REPAIR DUAL-BOOT page BEFORE you start.

You are not restricted to just two versions of Windows.
Multiple OSs can be installed to their own partitions. Installing the oldest OS first is easiest.
Install in this order (skipping any OS you do not want to install):
   MS-DOS 6.x (C: must use FAT)
   Windows 95 or 98 or SE or Me (C: must use FAT/FAT32, but just FAT for 95a)
   Windows NT4 (C: must use FAT. Update with SP 5(+) if installing Win 2000/XP)
   Windows 2000 (C: must use FAT/FAT32, but just FAT for 95a or NT)
   Windows XP (C: must use FAT/FAT32, but just FAT for 95a or NT)
You can then start any of the installed Windows from the Boot Loader screen on boot up.


How to install [WinXP or Win2000 or WinNT] on a Win95 system:

1. Switch OFF anti-viral software (& check in BIOS/CMOS also).
2. Routinely backup the current boot files, and important data.
3. Create a Win9x Boot disk (that contains SYS.COM) - essential.

4. Boot up Win95, and insert your XP/2K CD (run x:\I386\WINNT.EXE if no autorun).
5. Install Win XP/2K using the Advanced option in Setup.
      Make sure it installs as a new installation - not as an upgrade.
      Make sure the correct target drive is selected as the installation drive.
      Make sure Win XP/2000 uses a name different from the Win95 name.
      Do not convert the C: drive to NTFS or FAT32 - Win95 must boot from a FAT.
      Use FAT or NTFS for its OS boot partition
      (Win95 will not be able to read the XP/2K partition if you use NTFS).
6. Create WinXP/2K's ERD (run Rdisk.exe /s), and boot disks - ESSENTIAL
    WINNT32 and MAKEBT32 (\Boot disk folder on CD) are used to create boot disks.
7. Install the Recovery Console.
8. Finally, always create a new Rescue Boot Disk when a new dual-boot is successful!.

When your computer restarts, the Windows XP/2K boot loader screen appears, and you can choose between "Microsoft Windows 9x" and Win XP/2K. If not, read Repair a Dual-boot.

Note: In an emergency any Win9x Startup Disk (with CD support) can be used for running a XP/... CD (boot up with it and run WINNT.EXE from the I386 folder on XP/... CD).

Note: If rebooting for hardware installation, be sure you select the correct OS!

[top of page]


Specifying the Default OS to Boot, and the Boot Menu delay (the Timeout)

When you have established Dual-Booting, you will want to set which OS boots by default.

You can set the default OS (and the timeout) that you want via Control Panel.

1. Boot to the Win XP/2000.

2. Go to Start > Control Panel > System > Advanced tab

3. Under Startup and Recovery, click Settings.

4. Under System startup, in the Default operating system list, click the OS that you want to start when you turn on, or restart, your computer.

5. Also select the Display list of operating systems for check box, and then type the number of seconds for which you want the list displayed before the default OS starts automatically.

You can also edit the boot options file (click Edit). Be careful of typing errors if modifying the boot options file (Boot.ini), because doing so may make your computer unusable.

[top of page]


NEVER dual-boot without your personal safety net - a BOOT DISK for XP/2K/NT.
If stuck, use a Win9x Startup Disk (CD support), and run WINNT.EXE from I386 folder on CD.

RESCUE BOOT DISK for when XP, 2K, NT will not boot - ESSENTIAL, 1 floppy
   Create a bootable floppy to get XP/2K/NT running even if the boot record,
   or boot files, are ever a problem. Write-protect and keep it safe.
      Format a floppy with that XP, 2K, or NT. It must be a full XP/2K/NT format.
      Alter file Attributes (Attrib -r -s -h) of these files in root of C: (PC system partition)
      Boot.ini, NTLDR,, and Bootsect.dos & Ntbootdd.sys (if present)
      (plus Arcldr.exe & Arcsetup.exe - for Windows 2K) and copy them to the floppy.
      Write-protect the floppy. Then restore original Attributes to the files on C:.
      Read the Rescue Boot Disk page for fuller details, plus a much improved Rescue disk.
Use the CD: If you have a Bootable installation CD you should check if your BIOS
   supports booting from it. This is hugely convenient, but still make the floppy.
ERD XP, 2K, NT: Emergency Repair Disk - repair key Registry entries and partition geometry
2K/NT Setup Boot Disks: (4 floppies for 2K, or 3 for NT)
   Use WINNT32 and MAKEBT32 from 2K/NT (Boot disk folder on CD).
   Use WINNT and MAKEBOOT from a non-2K/NT system (such as Win9x).
XP Setup Boot Disks: (6 floppies)
   Read the Microsoft page How to obtain Windows XP Setup boot disks.
   It provides free downloads that create setup boot floppies for all versions of Windows XP.
   Each download is specific to each XP version (Home/Pro; original/SP1/SP2).
Win9x/Me Startup Disk:
   (95+) From a Windows: Control Panel > Add/Remove Programs > Startup Disk tab.
   (98+) From true MS-DOS: Go to the Command folder in Windows, and type Bootdisk.
   Windows 95 Startup Disks do not have CD support (add your CD-ROM driver).
   You can download free Win9x/Me boot disks from (IDE CDrom Drivers Included).

[top of page]

Please remember that you alone are responsible for the consequences of any changes you make to your computer hardware or software.

Copyright © LarryM 1998-2015